Britain bank on surprise

Ice hockey
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The Independent Online
Great Britain plan to spring a surprise on their World Championship rivals in their campaign to regain a place in the top flight.

The 23-strong squad are hopeful of gaining promotion to Pool A a year after they came close to relegation from Pool B. Britain play Latvia in Eindhoven today, before facing Switzerland, Poland, the Netherlands, Japan, Denmark and then Belarus a week on Friday.

Shannon Hope, the captain, believes their performance last year, when the event clashed with the Wembley play-offs, could work in their favour this time. "Some of the teams who we played last year and who had big wins over us will be thinking facing Britain will be another easy game," he said. "But we are a lot stronger this year, so the surprise will work in our favour. Our preparations this time round could not be more different than last year.

"Then, the Championships clashed with Wembley, so some players, like myself, were flying home in between games to play for their clubs. It wasn't the best way to prepare and we nearly fell out of Pool B because of it."

Britain have shown they can be a force in Pool B with a five-match unbeaten start to their Olympic qualification programme. During that time they have beaten two of the teams they face over the next fortnight - the Danes and the Dutch - and drawn in Switzerland.